The problems that Filipinos have today are symptomatic of a country that has lost its soul. While we have a bureaucracy discharging its mandate to perform its duties and responsibilities as prescribed by law, the very way in which this task is done sometimes does not make manifest our love of country.
There is nothing more apparent than the great divide between the rich and the poor in the Philippines. Our rule makers are estranged from us. Their weddings are done in a paradise reserved only for the elite. They live in gated communities. Their children go to exclusive schools. They have cars that no ordinary Filipino will be able to afford.
Our Constitution trumpets that we are a sovereign nation. But what does sovereignty mean? Whose freedom are our soldiers fighting for? Are we not serving the ends of a ruling class that is destined to rule? Where is God amidst all these troubles confronting more than 100 million souls?
It is time to pass judgment on our leaders and lay our moral claim to our own destiny as a people. We are not only being taken advantage of by those who are in power; they strip us of our dignity every time they steal from us. It is not just our taxes that they are misusing; many of those whom we address as honorable are thieves who have taken away from our children their future.
Most of them have stellar academic backgrounds. They have been bred in an environment so conducive to learning that it is as if the gods have molded them, and imbued them with the divine attribute of eternal wisdom and the characteristics Julius Caesar possessed in order to build Rome. The mantra they recite in the garden of knowledge is that man is created for God’s greater glory. Yet, what happened along the way?
The poor have remained without hope. The sick have remained in despair. The hungry continue to suffer. Men, women and children in conflict areas continue to flee a miserable life brought about by a senseless war.
Our country is one step closer to hell. Our leaders do not even know what it means to hold oneself accountable. Corruption stares us in the eye. Yet the masses are continually blinded by a false sense of loyalty. But still, we have to hold on to our deepest aspirations. We have to commit ourselves and continue to dream that the time will come when as a country we will be able to get back our lost soul.
While a “clash of civilization” may suggest that for hundreds of years, people of different religions and cultures have fought against each other, we have to find a common ground that will unite more than divide us as a people.
If we revisit history and consider the resilience of societies, though there are not that many, we might find stories that speak of the indomitable spirit of the human race. The United States survived the Depression, Europe rose from the rubble of two world wars, and a country as small as Singapore, though poor in natural resources, has succeeded in amassing wealth for its citizens.
What is the common thread in those things mentioned? More than knowledge, it is strong leadership that stands out. A strong leader like FDR is most peculiar because he does what is necessary when all the rest have resigned to a cruel fate. People will not believe someone who cares only about projecting a clean image. A great leader is not an idol that people worship. He is someone that people believe in because he also believes in them.
A great leader rallies his people to believe that such a future exists for them. Moses in Exodus found strength not only deep within him but also in a people so exploited that life’s only chance was liberation. Above all else, faith means transcending failure and defeat by finding the true meaning of life.
Man cannot be fashioned into a strong person on the basis of abstract and academic innuendos. Nothing replaces human experience and how it carves for man a true brilliance that moves him to give greater freedom to his fellowmen. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Andres Bonifacio exemplify this ideal.
However, if we continue to think that God will send us a savior, we will be centuries away from a life that each Filipino morally deserves. More than anything else, the spiritual and moral downfall of those who are presently in positions of power means that every Filipino should become a leader in his own right.
When a student exerts more than enough effort, he will find out that the future holds something for him. When a father does things right for his family, he gives his children a future. When an ordinary bureaucrat performs his job honestly, he is an inspiration who helps slowly restore trust in the bureaucracy.
True, there is no silver bullet against all the ills in Philippine society. But we cannot lose faith in ourselves because the pursuit of justice and equality is something that we owe to our children and the next generation.
Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He has a master’s degree in applied ethics from Linkoping University in Sweden.